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Opera Website Browser Adds FREE No-Logging VPN to Protect Users

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 (9:52 am) - Score 1,826

The Opera website browser, which is available to both Smartphones, Tablets and Desktop Computers, has today attempted to make itself more appealing to the market by adding a free built-in Virtual Private Network (VPN) feature that doesn’t log your online activity and protects privacy.

Opera use to be one of the most popular browsers around, although in recent years’ its popularity has suffered due to the rise of Google’s now dominant Chrome browser and other popular picks like Firefox (Mozilla) and Safari (Apple). Personally I still prefer Firefox on our Desktop systems for development reasons, but we’ve found Opera to be better on Android phones.

Whatever your preference, Opera wants you back and it’s trying really hard to attract interest. As a result the browser developer has recently added a number of new features, such as battery saving enhancements for laptops and the sometimes controversial addition of built-in ad blocking. Today they’ve gone one step further by adding a free VPN to their browser.

Krystian Kolondra, SVP of Opera Browser for Computers, said:

“If people knew how the internet truly works, I believe they all would use a VPN. By making our browser VPN free and easy to use, we hope to make it an essential tool, just as the lock and key is to your house.

We know that people are concerned about their privacy online and that the interest for VPN is increasing. However, two major obstacles are blocking people from using it: VPNs are too complicated to use, and they require a monthly subscription. Opera resolves both issues by introducing its free and easy-to-use service right into the browser.”

In fairness there are in fact a fair few free VPN services around and they’re usually not complicated to use (most of the time you only need to type a login and password), but free services aren’t always very good for anything except the basics and it’s often harder to trust the owners of such services with your personal data.

By comparison Opera’s new VPN feature is powered by its subsidiary, SurfEasy, which uses a secure 256-bit AES encrypted connection to the VPN virtual locations and does not retain any logs of your online activity. The company claims to have five server locations around the world and Opera can be set to “intelligently select the optimal server location based on factors such as network speed, latency, location and server capacity.”

How to use the VPN in Opera for Computers:

1. Download the browser client.

2. Go to Settings (or “Preferences” on Mac).

3. Choose “Privacy & Security” and then toggle the free VPN on.

4. An icon labelled “VPN” will appear in the browser to the left of the address field, from which you can activate the VPN and choose your preferred location.

The press release only appears to reference the new feature for use on its Desktop browser, although traditionally such enhancements often end up filtering down to their mobile browser too (Android, iOS etc.). The downside is that such a feature could be abused (e.g. making it harder to track criminal or unlawful activity), although equally it can help to protect your privacy and security (e.g. when browsing on a public WiFi network).

At present Opera says that there are no usage limits on the new VPN and that they have no plans to use the new service for making money (injecting adverts etc.). The goal, for now, is simply to differentiate their product in the market and thus boost users.

Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Chris says:

    I think this is a great idea. I already use a paid for VPN service that covers all my internet activity and this is a limitation of the Opera approach. Still it is a differentiation over the competition. I use Chrome as a browser but worry about all the logging I expect Google does. I also use Ghostery to stop trackers – this kind of functionality is a must for me before I would consider swapping to Opera.

    Chris

    1. Chris says:

      Just checked, Ghostery is available for Opera, perhaps I will give it a go.

    2. Chris says:

      On further investigation Opera was sold to a Chinese consortium for 600m. I wonder how they make their money to cover the 600m seeing as they also have a built in ad-blocker? With open questions like this I think I will stay with my current setup. I know how my VPN provider makes money, it is through subscriptions.

      Chris.

  2. Bob2002 says:

    ThatOnePrivacyGuy – you may have seen his well known VPN provider comparison chart – had this to say five months ago on reddit –

    https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/4fuyxf/operas_new_baked_in_vpn_is_not_a_good_solution/

    Apparently this is not a VPN as typically defined –

    “In our case we are coming with a new term: a browser VPN – and our goal is that all the network activity from the browser is actually routed via our secure proxy – unlike the usual proxies that only route the web traffic. So it’s different than a system wide VPN but it’s also different than a proxy. Thus – a browser VPN. Currently WebRTC and plugins are still not routed that way – but we’re very open about this – we’ve just released this as a developer preview and planning to fix this in the coming updates.”

    https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2016/04/22/opera-browser-vpn-proxy/

    The ipleak test seems OK, try it for yourself –

    https://ipleak.net/

    Personally I think this is fine for typical browsing, no need to generate Snooper’s Charter logs when you don’t have to and no need to pay for a VPN.

    1. Chris P says:

      people band the term “VPN” about without actually understanding what it is.

      the redit you linked to is 5 months old and covers their beta product.

      so long as the traffic is encrypted between you and the forwarding proxy then who cares how it is achieved. VPN sounds better to people than encrypted proxy connection, but thats all they are doing.

  3. Not impressed says:

    This is just a regular proxy, not a VPN.

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